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Eur Respir J. 2001 Feb;17(2):316-20.

Vascular smooth muscle cell phenotypes in primary pulmonary hypertension.

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  • 1Dept of Pediatrics, Mie University School of Medicine, Tsu, Japan.


Primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) is associated with specific structural alterations, including cellular intimal thickening, intimal fibrosis, and plexiform lesions. To determine the phenotypes of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in such lesions, the authors conducted an immunohistochemical analysis of lung tissues from two patients with PPH, using two antimuscle actin antibodies, HHF35 and CGA7, and two anti-SMC myosin heavy chain markers, anti-SM1 and anti-SM2 antibodies and related antibodies. Cells that stained positive (+) with HHF35, CGA7, anti-SM1, and anti-SM2 were considered to be SMCs of a mature state. Conversely, those that stained positive with HHF35 and anti-SM1, but weakly positive (+/-) or negative (-) with CGA7 and anti-SM2, were considered to be SMCs exhibiting an immature state. Cellular intimal thickening was composed of SMCs of an immature phenotype (HHF35+, CGA7+/-, SM1+, SM2+/-), accompanied by the expression of fibronectin and the presence of macrophages; intimal fibrosis contained mature SMCs (HHF35+, CGA7+, SM1+, SM2+); and plexiform lesion consisted of proliferative endothelial cells (von Willebrand factor-positive cells, proliferating cell nuclear antigen-positive cells) and underlying immature SMCs (HHF35+, CGA7-, SM1+, SM2-) associated with fibronectin expression and macrophage infiltration. These findings suggest that smooth muscle cells with specific phenotypes may contribute to the development of specific vascular lesions in primary pulmonary hypertension.

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